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Waitrose joins Tony’s Chocolonely initiative for ethical cocoa supply chain

Waitrose is paying farmers an additional premium on top of the Fairtrade certified bean price as part of the initiative.
Melodie Michel
Waitrose joins Tony’s Chocolonely initiative for ethical cocoa supply chain
Photo by Alexandre Brondino on Unsplash

UK supermarket chain Waitrose has joined Tony’s Chocolonely’s sustainable cocoa initiative Tony’s Open Chain to improve traceability and responsibility in its chocolate supply chain.

Nine of the brand’s own chocolate bars will be made from cocoa sourced through the initiative, which aims to end child labour and all illegal labour in the industry. As a ‘mission ally’, Waitrose has committed to traceability, paying the living income reference price for cocoa (which includes a premium from the Fairtrade price) and building long-term partnerships with partner cooperatives to support farmers.

The commitment comes as profits from forced labour are on the rise around the world, with US$5 billion of the US$236 billion total earned illegally in 2023 from human exploitation coming from the agricultural sector. 

Cocoa sourced through Tony’s Open Chain is verified deforestation free and reduces child labour from the industry average of 46.7% to 4.4%.

Charlotte Di Cello, Commercial Director at Waitrose said: “Joining as a mission ally is crucial to helping set a new industry standard, in a world where sustainability is no longer optional but essential, we want to not just meet but exceed our customers' expectations for responsibly and ethically sourced, high-quality food across the UK and international supply chains.”

Waitrose joins Ben & Jerry’s (a Unilever brand), Albert Heijn (which is part of Ahold Delhaize), as well as emerging brands such as Huel, Pleese and The Flower Farm, in becoming a Tony's Open Chain mission ally.

UK supermarkets’ new sustainability commitments

Many UK retailers have announced new sustainability initiatives in recent weeks, including updated Scope 3 emissions reduction targets with a specific focus on agriculture and land use, known as FLAG emissions.

Sainsbury’s is aiming for a 36.4% cut in FLAG emissions by 2030, while Co-op is targeting 42.4%. Cutting FLAG emissions for these retailers entails promoting more regenerative practices across agricultural supply chains – an ambition formulated in the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action signed by more than 130 countries at COP28.

However, Waitrose is the first UK supermarket chain to join the Tony’s Open Chain initiative focused specifically on traceability and human rights in the cocoa supply chain. “We’re proud to be the first UK retailer to join Tony’s Chocolonely in their mission to end exploitation in cocoa, but we definitely hope we aren’t the last,” added Di Cello.

Read also: Supply chain sustainability and social impact – more integration needed